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RuneLogIX
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27/02/2020 3:13 pm  

Over many years I have explored Thelemic literature. I enjoy it greatly and I have a long list of personal favorites. However I think I could offer a shorter list of books I have found to be spiritually useless. As always your mileage may vary and don't take my word for it. Please submit your own least favorites below so I can know what to avoid in the future. Ranked in order of bad:

 

1. Liber vel Oviz: this seems like a drug fueled screed. Self-published in San Francisco in 1981 the only thing nice about it I can say is I hope the author was not Jerry Cornelius.

 

2. Book of Perfection: Author James Beck. Another drug fueled screed with copious plagiarisms from Liber Al. It also claims to be a received text from Aiwass in a highly questionable fashion. There are possibly interesting qaballaistic findings but I have not cared enough to look deeply. Jim Eshelman has this to say about it "It is what it is. But it isn't authentic to the Thelemic corpus. It is what it is." Silence would of been the better part of wisdom to the author of this book.

 

3. Understanding Aleister Crowley's Thoth Taro: Author Lon Milo. Fewer books have more pages and less content then this one. Most of the symbolism on the cards is blatantly ignored and irrelevant anecdotes and misdirection occurs on most. Lon has a predilection for calling how certain trump cards are "sexy" and "beautiful" and mentioning their supposed sex appeal. Maybe I am more immature then he is but these comments do not increase my understanding of said cards. The whole of Lon's teaching in regards to the tarot can be summarized in this video recording of one of his lectures: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWhFaz415hQ Note how he provides lots of superficial detail of the first few cards and then fast forwards Speedy Gonzales style in the final half. If you want to see what a detailed exploration of the Thoth Tarot symbolism actually looks like this youtube channel will suffice.

 

4. Aleister Crowley's Secret Temple. Author Bethsheba Ashe. A purported solution to Liber Al, the author makes a solid try at this however it for me personally it falls flat. Let me preface my review with that I have no problem with inventive and creative spiritual explorations but don't try to back up your claims in areas where you demonstrate no obvious knowledge, the only point of which can be to mislead others on your authority. Right away there are problems with the proposed solution, the supposed Merkabah Palace with a graphic of the palace exists no where else in the Western esoteric canon, at least that I can find. If it was an invention of the author I would be fine with that but it is nowhere mentioned that it is. Furthermore the author is at pains to demonstrate her supposed credentials in cryptography, which I am actually well versed in, and she offers no evidence of methods or crypto primitives used other than elementary gemetria which is not per se evidence of cryptography knowledge. The supposed solution to the Liber Al riddle is summarized as the letter Ayin which completely fails to impress me.

 

5. Memoirs of an OTO Initiate. Author Jerry Cornelius. Jerry is actually my favorite Thelemic author. No one has done as much good for the Thelemic milieu as he has with his publishing efforts in the last 30 years (sorry but my opinion is that Michael Staley is a close second). But this book should not of been written. Although parts are very enjoyable with stories of the early characters in the American OTO, it quickly goes off the rails with repetitive rants about H.B. man bad. Although I happen to agree that H.B. man bad, an entire book of personal enmity is not what I care to read. Although my reading of this book is incomplete, I have kept putting it off for more enlightening subjects. However I will say one good thing about the book: if it discourages even one person from joining the OTO then it is a blessing in disguise.

 

6. Brother Curwen, Brother Crowley. Edited by Henrik Bogdan. There are interesting tidbits here for the AC scholar but not much else. The passive aggressive tone of the letters to each participant almost exactly matches the tenor of certain posters on this forum. If anything I think the hostile and sad correspondence can be blamed on the zeitgeist and misplaced optimism both writers had to each other. I have not read this to completion. Reviewers on Amazon commented that the correspondance makes both authors look so bad it is a real wonder why it was supposedly authorized by the OTO in the first place (I can think of some $$$ reasons).

 

7. Aleister Crowley's Illustrated Goetia: Sexual Evocation. Lon Milo DuQuette and Christopher Hyatt. Perhaps my biggest gripe with this book is the low production values. DuQuette continues in his tradition of providing personal anecdotes in lieu of technical details (for contrast, use in comparison any similar work by Jake Stratton-Kent). The juicy bits are like two pages in length but reprinting AC essays takes up dozens of pages. The illustrations of the demons are to put it mildly highly amateur. What should be such an interesting area for modern magicians is treated like a pulp novel (and in other words, a cash grab).

 

There may be a couple more I have failed to consider in this review but that is all I have time for today. 93s.

Force and Fire is not metaphorical. In Prophetes Veritas Venit.


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dom
 dom
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27/02/2020 3:22 pm  

Lon's Goetia book is awesome.  Concise and informative.  You want high-tech drawings of demons?  Why?  They won't necessarily appear the way any grimoire says they should anyway......I hear.

https://www.lashtal.com/wiki/Aleister_Crowley_Timeline


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Shiva
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27/02/2020 4:36 pm  
Posted by: @runelogix

Over many years I have explored Thelemic literature. I enjoy it greatly and I have a long list of personal favorites.

Welcome to the club.

I cannot help but note that your selection of "books that could use some adjustment" are by authors who are not AC. Although I have enjoyed Cornelius and Wilson, R.A., it is my general opinion, and my long-standing free advice that I have been known to give, post, and speak, that one needs to pay attention to the official Libers, do the work, and pay little or no attention to self-styled Revealers of What Crowley is About.

Most of these authors ("authorities"?) are just "riding along on Crowley's coat-tails," and they rarely introduce any new, practical material (if ever).

Posted by: @dom

They won't necessarily appear the way any grimoire says they should anyway......I hear.

Generally speaking, you have heard correctly. In my experience (not what I have heard), I have seen them appear visually just as described in the book. Other times, there was no visible image, just reckless energy outside the circle, or maybe a dim shape in the triangle.

 


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ignant666
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27/02/2020 5:02 pm  

A good point, Shiva.

So, then: what is AC's worst book?

My nomination: The Vision and the Voice. Redefines the word "turgid"; lends new meaning to the concept "self-indulgent".

One could also nominate The Blue Equinox for all the lies told about the OTO- "profess-houses in every major city", etc.


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ignant666
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27/02/2020 5:27 pm  

Further on "The worst books on Thelema are all the ones not by Crowley": examining my shelves, i find that the only books about magick/Thelema (as opposed to biographies of AC and/or books about various terrestrial manifestations of "the 93 current") that aren't by AC are by two guys called "Frater Shiva" (Liber Coruscatio), and "Richard Payne-Knight, Esq." (Two Essays On The Worship Of Priapus).


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Shiva
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27/02/2020 5:47 pm  
Posted by: @ignant666

One could also nominate The Blue Equinox for all the lies told about the OTO

Blue Eq was one of my favorites. I needed it to study the skeleton/foundation of Profess Houses and who gets to live where and for how long. We had 5 Profess Houses in one city, but they all really came under a single bumbershoot.

We solved the residencial issue by letting anyone live in two Profess Houses (U.S.C. students) and no black masses or sacrifices were ever done there. One house was dedicated to 0 degree work, and the "big house" (Grand Lodge) required the first degree to move in.

As I stated (only yesterday?), OTO was AC's "retirement program," and it worked well enough for him - so that he didn't die from lack of money. Germer had his own funds. Capricornus turned it into a fantastically-appointed Retirement Cache. McMurtry seems to have sustained himself, with beer included.

Now the (c)OTO has changed all that and the Constitution was cut up and placed in the resting rooms as Papyri of Ani. The "Rights and Responsibilities of Members" doc was scrapped and the scraps recycled into duplexity and the One True Order with all others being Fakirs.

So I sold my Blue Eq, and have no need for it today. Actually I needed it no more after 1969.

I don't see why anybody needs Blue Eq today, except as a collector's item. Most of the info pertains to a pipe dream that got reworked by the plumber.

I like to quote AC's last written words ... a PS at the bottom of his last letter to Germer: "The Profess House system will not work. You must find some other way to bring in the new age."

Note: There is no longer a nursing home for pregnant mothers. What a loss to Thelemic Society in Action.

 

 


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ignant666
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27/02/2020 5:54 pm  

Well, the "clandestine" Solar Lodge was the only serious attempt to actually put into practice all AC's lies in The Blue Equinox.

Can the (c)OTO claim to own even a single gas station, motel, or bookstore?

Success "in business way" sure ain't their proof!

Posted by: @shiva

Note: There is no longer a nursing home for pregnant mothers. What a loss to Thelemic Society in Action.

The only reason this existed in AC's "fantasy OTO" plan was that the "women members" (whose names could not be mentioned in public) were expected to serve as compliant receptacles for the Holy Sperm of the real members (see what i did there?), and AC thought abortion was murder. If only he could have lived to see effective contraception freely available!


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Shiva
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27/02/2020 6:35 pm  
Posted by: @ignant666

Can the (c)OTO claim to own even a single gas station, motel, or bookstore?

I haven't seen one yet. Maybe after the plague?


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RuneLogIX
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27/02/2020 9:50 pm  
Posted by: @shiva

 

I cannot help but note that your selection of "books that could use some adjustment" are by authors who are not AC. Although I have enjoyed Cornelius and Wilson, R.A., it is my general opinion, and my long-standing free advice that I have been known to give, post, and speak, that one needs to pay attention to the official Libers, do the work, and pay little or no attention to self-styled Revealers of What Crowley is About.

that is fine but not at all what this thread is about as you could discern from the title.

Worst AC books is way beyond the scope of what I intended to discuss. Probably my least favorite are the first couple of Equinox's, The Collected Works, and Tannhauser. I am probably in the minority of enjoying his short stories from The International period a great deal, they were clearly produced to be paid by the word but it far less haughty then his earlier works and similar literature made during that time period.

Force and Fire is not metaphorical. In Prophetes Veritas Venit.


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ignant666
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27/02/2020 10:04 pm  

We've already settled what are the "worst Crowley books"- the ones he didn't write.

Might save time to list any of the other kind. I thought DuQuette's Magick of AC was not bad, and i say this as a distinct non-fan of the, um, organizations with which he is affiliated.

And he does not look like a "Wanted" poster for obscure child-sex offenses, unlike the other public faces of the (c)OTO.


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dom
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27/02/2020 10:38 pm  

Generally speaking, you have heard correctly. In my experience (not what I have heard), I have seen them appear visually just as described in the book.

 

@shiva

 

Ok.

https://www.lashtal.com/wiki/Aleister_Crowley_Timeline


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Alan_OBrien
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27/02/2020 11:21 pm  

For me it's a book by a guy called R T Coles. I forget the title because it was so crap. I just want to forget about it. I think it was advertised here at lashtal.com.


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ignant666
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27/02/2020 11:34 pm  

@alan_obrien : Produced audible laughter- what the kids call "LOL"- from me.

He is, however, a singular (very singular, some might say) "Cole", not a plural "Coles".


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Michael Staley
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27/02/2020 11:48 pm  
Posted by: @ignant666

He is, however, a singular (very singular, some might say) "Cole", not a plural "Coles".

Shame, isn't it - would have liked to have worked in gems of folk-wisdom such as "taking Coles to Newcastle".


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ignant666
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27/02/2020 11:56 pm  
Posted by: @michael-staley

"taking Coles to Newcastle"

Not so familiar with UK culture, being an American- is that a place you take particularly foolish folks to, to pillory and ridicule them?

Newcastle, i mean; i am familiar with their ale, but know nothing else about the place.


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Michael Staley
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28/02/2020 12:20 am  
Posted by: @ignant666

Not so familiar with UK culture, being an American- is that a place you take particularly foolish folks to, to pillory and ridicule them?

Newcastle, i mean; i am familiar with their ale, but know nothing else about the place.

Newcastle used to be a coal-mining area, and the phrase "taking coals to Newcastle" conveys the idea of taking something to an area which already has more than enough of what you are taking. The phrase isn't particularly applicable to our belovéd Carrot_Childe, as it happens; I just love puns.


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ignant666
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28/02/2020 12:21 am  

[i really knew that, Michael; ashamed now]


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Michael Staley
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28/02/2020 12:53 am  
Posted by: @ignant666

[i really knew that, Michael; ashamed now]

So telling you was like taking coals to Newcastle?


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ignant666
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28/02/2020 1:02 am  

Oh lord- yet another feather in your cap as lashtal's wittiest poster.

I hope you kids are observing the sheer deftness Mr. Staley displays here.

He bangs out one good pun, then, when i disingenuously claim that, as a Yank, i don't "get it", sets up another, and knocks that "out the park" ["produces admirable results", for you non-baseball-conversant foreigners].


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Shiva
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28/02/2020 4:13 am  
Posted by: @runelogix

not at all what this thread is about as you could discern from the title.

Oh, I noted the "Thelemic" insert. I agree that respected authors and loose cannons can write about AC or Thelema, and it's fair to include them in "Thelemic Lit." I'm just waiting for one of them to give up some new info. Not info about which hotel AC stayed at, or how Thelema should be understood, but new, practical data or practices or secret words that work.

Posted by: @ignant666

i say this as a distinct non-fan of the, um, organizations with which he is affiliated.

DuQuette seems to be a little different from his clan brethren. I have no knowledge of the man, except for brief reviews, but his live audiences seem to like him.

Posted by: @michael-staley

taking something to an area which already has more than enough of what you are taking

I was thinking about writing a book on AC and hyping it on LAShTAL. Nothing new, Just Mumbo Jumbo and nothing practical that works. Would that be taking Coles to Newdcastle?

 


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ignant666
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28/02/2020 4:24 am  
Posted by: @shiva

nothing practical that works.

But he will give us the Horus Toy ...

Or maybe his book wil be like all the other ones you mention- no actual how-to stuff, that works, anyway.

People who don't bother trying to do the stuff in how-to books will never actually get around to building a canoe in their garage. But they may well have many different kinds of canoe-plans lying around, of course.

They will not be able to say which canoe-plans are better than other canoe-plans, or even which parts of canoe-plans one might do well to pay close attention to, or what kinds of glue are best for canoe-building.

Because, you see, they have never actually built a canoe, let alone paddled one. But they are canoe-plan experts..

"Canoe" is just one of those words that looks spelled wrong even when it's spelled right- why on earth did i pick canoes?


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28/02/2020 4:36 am  
Posted by: @runelogix

2. Book of Perfection: Author James Beck. Another drug fueled screed with copious plagiarisms from Liber Al. It also claims to be a received text from Aiwass in a highly questionable fashion. There are possibly interesting qaballaistic findings but I have not cared enough to look deeply. Jim Eshelman has this to say about it "It is what it is. But it isn't authentic to the Thelemic corpus. It is what it is." Silence would of been the better part of wisdom to the author of this book.

It is what it is and that is something. It did make the prediction that the original writing of the Book of the Law would be found which came true. That aside, in my experience the book has a connection to thelemic history and Aiwass and belongs in the thelemic corpus. The reception and surrounding publication story helped with my understanding of Aiwass as a separate entity. I agree the writing is a mess yet in that mess the scribe seemed to hold the right knowledge for the transmission to get through and there's some good material to be deciphered(Book of Codes, go figure). Maybe silence would have been wisdom but being silent wasn't an option since he was instructed to make some noise with it.

When I received a copy it was as though 93 Publishing made it just for me. 🤗

 

Worst book...hmmm...that's a tough decision...

Liber LXX, maybe. Although, I did see the reddit wikibot outclass and show more humanity and intelligence than a human in a thread about this book recently. It got so much funnier when the human was sulking about it too. Even started going off about millennials and snowflakes and defending themselves against accusations no one was making. lol. Terrible book.


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Shiva
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28/02/2020 6:09 am  
Posted by: @ignant666

But he will give us the Horus Toy ...

To be examined, tested, and proven to be miraculous ... or the Grand Tribunal will be convened ...

"Hear ye! Hear Ye! (they still use Bible-speak)  In the matter of the Peeples versus The Inventor of the Horus toy ...

Posted by: @ignant666

why on earth did i pick canoes?

Because of their shape. Double-pointed, you see. Wishy-washy. Flows evenly in either direction. Slippery devils! Some would say, "Dangerous," because they're tipsy.

 

 


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Michael Staley
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28/02/2020 7:59 am  
Posted by: @shiva

I was thinking about writing a book on AC and hyping it on LAShTAL. Nothing new, Just Mumbo Jumbo and nothing practical that works. Would that be taking Coles to Newdcastle?

I'd say that would be a perfect example.


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dom
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28/02/2020 8:16 am  

@ignant666

 

You'd probably like it.  Google 'Jarrow march' a famous socialist protest.  Also find youtube clips of Sarah Millican and/or  'Vic and Bob'.  Google Paul 'gazza' Gascoigne, 'Jimmy Nail', Sting of the band The Police and the term 'Geordie'.   Generally speaking pet,the people of Newcastle are liked in the UK due to their warm nature.  

https://www.lashtal.com/wiki/Aleister_Crowley_Timeline


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herupakraath
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28/02/2020 11:34 am  

I would add to the list, The Magickal (sic) Language of The Book of the Law by Cath Thompson. The book details the basic concept underlying the NAEQ/ALW gematria system, which has been receiving unwarranted accolades for far too long. The only solution to any of the Liber Legis ciphers provided is one for verse II:76 authored by Jake Stratton Kent, which fails for any number of reasons, while Thompson insists the solution is unequivocal. The book contains a mere 86 pages of rambling incoherent gematria examples, followed by a 53 page gematria dictionary: a waste of space and money.


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spike418
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23/06/2020 10:12 am  

@herupakraath I don't visit here very often these days so please excuse the late response.

Why do you consider any accolades received by the ALW cypher as being unwarranted. My 40+ years of working the system confirm to me that it has been criminally ignored.

The solution to ii.76 was not authored by JSK, but I'd also like to see some meat on the bone of your assertion that it "fails for any number of reasons".

Presumably, given your dismissal of the work you haven't read either of the companion books that were available at the time of your review? Nor indeed the 4th book recently published, personally I'm eagerly awaiting the 5th as I know what's in it.


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herupakraath
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24/06/2020 5:46 pm  
Posted by: @spike418

Why do you consider any accolades received by the ALW cypher as being unwarranted. My 40+ years of working the system confirm to me that it has been criminally ignored.

To me ALW is one of those systems that attempts to use the Book of the Law as a springboard to  qualify its significance, without providing any insight into the text, or having anything to do with its subject matter. The primary exponents of the system have stated they are not Thelemites, and are pro-Jesus, which is rather odd, if not antithetical to the message of Liber Legis.

Posted by: @spike418

The solution to ii.76 was not authored by JSK, but I'd also like to see some meat on the bone of your assertion that it "fails for any number of reasons"

Kent was the one that multiplied the letter and number counts in the two halves of the II:76 puzzle to arrive at the value 187 (17 x 11), the enumeration of the phrase English Alphabet, which is the so-called unequivocal solution touted by Thompson. One ordinal gematria system out of every 85 generated at random will cause the phrase English Alphabet to equal the value 187, which makes it appear that doing so is mere luck.

Posted by: @spike418

Presumably, given your dismissal of the work you haven't read either of the companion books that were available at the time of your review? Nor indeed the 4th book recently published, personally I'm eagerly awaiting the 5th as I know what's in it.

There is no reason to take any of the ALW work seriously unless it can be proven there is more to it than a few random gematria equations.

 


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spike418
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25/06/2020 4:32 pm  

@herupakraath

Point 1, I believe you misunderstand the comments from the primary exponents.

 

Point 2, I thought you were referring to something else regarding II:76.

 

Point 3, the gematria is a part of the whole system and shouldn't be isolated from the rest. There exists a whole canon of rituals and initiations which are evolving. What do you think the practitioners have been up to for 40+ years? Seriously there are and to write off ALW as something with only random gematria equations hardly illustrates "the method of science", in fact you seem to be taking a Nelsonian approach to the subject. This is fine if you have no interest in the subject but don't deride something of which you are ignorant.


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herupakraath
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27/06/2020 10:51 am  
Posted by: @spike418

Point 1, I believe you misunderstand the comments from the primary exponents.

Not in the least.

Posted by: @spike418

Point 2, I thought you were referring to something else regarding II:76.

Perhaps you should consider reading the companion books.

Posted by: @spike418

Point 3, the gematria is a part of the whole system and shouldn't be isolated from the rest.

The subject matter of the book reviewed is gematria, and as for 'the rest', the canon of rituals and so on, it carries less weight than the gematria does.

Posted by: @spike418

What do you think the practitioners have been up to for 40+ years?

Practicing 'astro-tantric' sex magick while Venus is conjunct with the Sun, a practice that is inspired by the gematria equation Sun-Venus = 107.

Posted by: @spike418

Seriously there are and to write off ALW as something with only random gematria equations hardly illustrates "the method of science"

Demonstrating gematria equations are random lies at the heart of scientific analysis, beginning with the concept of the null hypothesis, which requires that all phenomenon be treated as random until proven otherwise. I'm astonished that within the context of the discussion you would invoke the term science, which has nothing to do with the ALW system and its practices.

Posted by: @spike418

This is fine if you have no interest in the subject but don't deride something of which you are ignorant.

The subject of the book was ALW serving as 'The Magickal Language of The Book of the Law', which is ludicrous, and a disservice to Thelema. Apart from that, if you or others have benefited from the ALW system that's fine with me, and I'm more than willing to bask in my ignorance if you will stop pretending the ALW system is the alphanumeric key to the Book of the Law.

 


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spike418
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27/06/2020 1:13 pm  
Posted by: @herupakraath
Posted by: @spike418

Point 1, I believe you misunderstand the comments from the primary exponents.

Not in the least.

Posted by: @spike418

Point 2, I thought you were referring to something else regarding II:76.

Perhaps you should consider reading the companion books.

Posted by: @spike418

Point 3, the gematria is a part of the whole system and shouldn't be isolated from the rest.

The subject matter of the book reviewed is gematria, and as for 'the rest', the canon of rituals and so on, it carries less weight than the gematria does.

Posted by: @spike418

What do you think the practitioners have been up to for 40+ years?

Practicing 'astro-tantric' sex magick while Venus is conjunct with the Sun, a practice that is inspired by the gematria equation Sun-Venus = 107.

Posted by: @spike418

Seriously there are and to write off ALW as something with only random gematria equations hardly illustrates "the method of science"

Demonstrating gematria equations are random lies at the heart of scientific analysis, beginning with the concept of the null hypothesis, which requires that all phenomenon be treated as random until proven otherwise. I'm astonished that within the context of the discussion you would invoke the term science, which has nothing to do with the ALW system and its practices.

Posted by: @spike418

This is fine if you have no interest in the subject but don't deride something of which you are ignorant.

The subject of the book was ALW serving as 'The Magickal Language of The Book of the Law', which is ludicrous, and a disservice to Thelema. Apart from that, if you or others have benefited from the ALW system that's fine with me, and I'm more than willing to bask in my ignorance if you will stop pretending the ALW system is the alphanumeric key to the Book of the Law.

 

Utter and complete hogwash, so many opinions presented as facts, a nice display of your ignorance of the system. I'm off to wrestle a different pig, this is a waste of time


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Shiva
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27/06/2020 7:19 pm  
Posted by: @spike418

Utter and complete hogwash

You get the prize for block-quoting the longest block-quote of the month ... maybe even the annual prize. And every bit of it "hogwash," which it might be because I can't figure out the point of any of this. So I'll just leave you folks to your little squabble over semantria and the shape of some letter.

P.S. It's all hogwash, all these concepts. Everything mentioned is intellectually contrived within the 8 vehicles. Only the 9th, which is concept free, is liberated.

 


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Shiva
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28/06/2020 9:55 pm  
Posted by: @spike418

I'm off to wrestle a different pig, this is a waste of time

A different comet has entered the system, but now it's gone. They don't last long, these blazing collections of dust and gas. You see, if they get too close to the Sol Soul, they melt and fragment and disperse.


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